LIVE & WORK ON YOUR OWN TERMS

Surprising Year-End Tax Deductions for Dreamers

By Valerie Young
As 2010 comes to a rapid close, I suppose I should be writing an inspirational message about the New Year.

How about a little practical inspiration that can help your wallet?

Every January 1, I set aside time to reflect on my 2011 goals.

But the last week in December is when I make sure I’m taking advantage of every benefit of being self-employed I possibly can.

Benefits you may not be aware are available to you, too.

You see, in the wise words of my friend and Making a Living Without a Job author of Barbara Winter:

“The American tax system is set up to benefit the very wealthy and the self-employed.”

That may not surprise you, especially if you already have a business.

However if you haven’t started your business – no make that ESPECIALLY if you haven’t started a business – there are some important tax facts that may surprise you.

SURPRISING TAX FACT #1: You have to have already started making money to take a deduction

This first one always comes as a surprise to people who haven’t yet launched a business…

Even if you don’t earn a dime until next year – or even the next 3 years — you can still write off legitimate business expenses you had in 2010.

It’s true.

As far as the United States Internal Revenue Service is concerned, as long as you are making what they call a “good faith effort” to earn a profit in the future – you can begin deducting any money you invest in building your business right away.

SURPRISING TAX FACT #2: Home or Away – as Long as You’re Working it’s Deductible

You probably already know about deductions for things like office supplies, books, and magazine subscriptions.

However, when your investment is intended to generate a profit, you may be able to deduct other things.

If you work from home, you can deduct a portion of your rent or mortgage and utilities. Even certain home repair expenses – like a portion of the cost of the new roof I put on or, in some cases, things like landscaping or snow plowing.

It gets even better.

If you take a 7 day vacation to the Caribbean or Florida or London and while you’re there you spend a day calling on local businesses or perhaps scouting out future seminar locales, your expenses for that day should be deductible.

For the last few summers my company (that would be me!) sends me to a lake in New Hampshire for a week to write. I deduct the mileage to and from the lake and groceries to keep me happily full as I work on my laptop from the deck.

SURPRISING TAX FACT #3: Learning is tax deductible!

You may not yet know “how” to make money doing your own thing…

But did you know that your investment in LEARNING how qualifies as a legitimate business expense?

After all, what could be more proof of your intention to succeed then investing in education and training designed to launch you into your own profitable business.

Live Training and Events

If you pay for a live class or a conference in 2010 that isn’t happening until 2011 you can still deduct it now. For instance, if you want to start a business around your love for cooking, or dogs, or clowning check out:

Basic Business Skills

Maybe you already work for yourself but need to improve some more general business skills. You can deduct tuition fees for courses on:

  • Presentation skills: Communispond offers a great course that I took and later taught back when I was in corporate training days.
  • Sales training: My friend Carolyn Herfurth runs a sales bootcamp for people who hate to “sell” (next one starts next week but if you sign up today – it’s deductible this year)
  • Writing your own web site marketing copy There’s not a date set yet but you can sign up for notices about when Matthew Goldfarb is doing his weekend class again

Business Building Training

You can also deduct the full cost of any learn-from-home programs designed to help you start a business. Some of my favorites are:

Profiting From Your Passions®

Okay this part is blatant self-promotion, but just as an example, because the Profiting from Your Passion® Career Coach Training Program is a business launch program, it also qualifies as a tax deductible expense.

If the idea of getting paid to brainstorm interests you, there is another incentive to act on your dream this year.

Order by December 31st, and get up to $1,375 in savings and bonuses. This includes the opportunity to qualify for a private marketing session with me.

Deduct Travel Expenses Too

Even if the event itself is free, you can still enjoy some tax breaks. Last year I attended Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Growth Conference in Miami. This is me with keynote speaker Guerilla Marketing guru Jay Conrad Levinson.

Even though the conference is free, I was still able to deduct my travel expenses.

The 2011 conference is happening January 20th in Atlanta If you go I urge you to come prepared to pitch your business to the editors. (The line is long, but it moves fast and you’ll meet really neat people!)

Just book your airfare or pre-paid hotel reservations in 2010 and you can deduct these expenses this year.

Unfortunately I can’t make it this year because I’ll be gearing up for the $99 No Travel/No Brainer Work at What You Love Virtual Workshop happening January 22-23.

I’m still working out some details but if you would like advance notification when I do, click here.

No matter how your learning occurs, the point is it’s probably tax deductible, and if you pay in 2010, you can take the deduction before you take the course.

With any of these programs, even if the course materials don’t arrive until 2011 – as long as it’s on your credit card before December 31, 2010 – and it meets the “good faith” criteria, it’s considered a legitimate business expense.

BONUS FACT

If you want to be your own boss, you need to start thinking like a self-employed person.

I hope I’ve opened your eyes to ways you can realize the 2010 benefits of the American tax system before you’re even officially self-employed.

More importantly, if losing my Mom at the too young age of 61 taught me anything, it’s to not defer something as important as your dreams.

Time is ticking folks. Please don’t let this year end without taking at least one small step in 2010 to get you closer to where you want to be in 2011.

In the wise words of Audré Lorde:

“When I care to be powerful – to use my strengths in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”

You can find lots of additional information on deductible expenses and other tax matters on the Self-Employment/Small Business section of the IRS web site at http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/index.html.

My Canadian friends can check out http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/taxinfo/Tax_Information.htm

If you live outside the US or Canada I encourage you to learn about possible the tax benefits for entrepreneurs in your country.


A Little Knowledge Can Go a Long Way


How to Generate a Steady Cash Flow
Using What You Already Know

Valerie and her rescue dog,
"Cokie Roberts"


By Valerie Young

“The number one money challenge for people who want to transition from a salaried job to being an entrepreneur is the unpredictability of their earnings.”

There are lots of different ways to “package” and sell what you know teaching classes, writing a how-to manual, and so on. But there is another lesser-known way to turn your interests into income. And, it’s the only way I know that is actually designed to generate a steady and relatively predictable flow of income on a monthly basis.

If You Want a Predictable Stream of Income, Create a “Continuity” Program

From the book of the month club to the Netflix DVD rental model, member clubs (often referred to as “continuity” or “subscription” programs) have always been popular with consumers. It’s easy to see the appeal. Members like the idea that for a flat monthly fee they’re guaranteed exclusive access to a continuous flow of information, resources, entertainment, support, or products of interest.

The huge appeal to entrepreneurs is that membership programs provide a CONTINUOUS and relatively predictable flow of income. Take Consumer Reports magazine as an example. Instead of charging the full subscription price upfront, they will automatically bill the subscriber’s credit card in monthly installments of $4.95. Ongoing “membership” allows the subscriber to access password-protected areas of the website at any time.

You do the math. Even if you manage to attract only 1,000 members – at $4.95 a month that’s $4,950 in income a MONTH. Some continuity programs charge as much as several hundred dollars a month.

You don’t have to be a big company to start your own member program. Successful member programs can be found in such diverse niches as embroidery, jazz guitar... even sky diving!

Anyone Can Start a Member Program

Not too long ago Ryan Lee was struggling to support his young family as a physical education teacher in the Bronx. Ryan still loves the world of fitness. But today he runs 48 different membership sites all in the health, fitness, and sports training field.

Here’s where it gets interesting…

You don’t even need to have personal knowledge or experience in a subject area to start a member program. It may surprise you to learn that the guy who founded
MassageBusinessUniversity.com
has a background in fitness – but he himself is NOT a massage therapist. Instead, he relies on a team of “faculty” with expertise in growing a massage practice to create value-added content for his members.

Turn Your Interests into Income

As you’ve just seen, setting up a membership site can be as simple as figuring out what your audience needs and then finding the people who can provide it. But let’s take a hypothetical example of an untapped market.

Let’s say you love fresh lavender. Hop on the internet and you’ll find there are literally hundreds of viable farms and lavender related businesses all over the world – many in the U.S. and Canada.

Now what if one of these growers wanted to join the American, Canadian, or North American Lavender Growers Association? They could join the Australian Lavender Industry Association for $125 a year ($155 international) or the New Zealand Lavender Growers Association. It may be out there but I could not find a North American counterpart.

Do you hear what I hear? It’s the sound of opportunity knocking!

Think about it… even if you sign up a mere 200 lavender farm owners and charge them a modest $35 in monthly member fees. You’d be bringing in $7,000 a MONTH!

Don’t Know Where to Begin? Figure It Out!

I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you’re probably muttering, “But how am I supposed to start a member program for lavender farmers if I don’t know anything about out it?”

The answer comes down to three little words that every aspiring entrepreneur should memorize: Figure It Out!

Instead of trying to guess what your prospective members want, go to the source and ask them! Do lavender growers need help marketing their products? Making operations more efficient? Finding seasonal workers? Breaking into new markets? Understanding new and existing government regulations? Creating joint ventures like advertising campaigns or events with other growers? Learning about new state or provincial programs to support agri-tourism?

In my very limited search, I learned that as part of the planning phase prospective growers often travel to France for a first-hand look at the lavender industry in Provence. And yet, I could not find a single person running lavender farm tours to France. Now imagine if your member program sponsored tours to France and you got to go! How fun is that!

Once you understand your market’s needs, all you need to do is find authors, successful farmers, agricultural marketing experts, botanists, organic food store owners and others who you can interview or who you can get to write articles. You could set up Teleclasses, put on regional or national conferences, and otherwise seek out other resources that your members want. Like I always say, you may not know everything there is to know about a subject but you’re always smart enough to figure out who does!

As long as you make good on your promise to consistently deliver quality content, as a member program owner, you’ll receive a steady flow of revenue in the form of member fees.

Where Do You Begin?

Fortunately, when it comes to knowing exactly what it takes to set up and run a successful membership site, you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

Remember Ryan Lee – the former P.E. teacher turned millionaire fitness membership site owner? Well, last year Ryan teamed up with a really terrific guy named Tim Kerber. Tim is the co-creator of a turn-key membership software solution called MemberGate. Together they started (are you ready…) a membership site for membership site owners.
MembershipSiteOwner.com
was created to help new and seasoned membership site owners to continue to grow and learn.

Next, Tim and Ryan teamed up to conduct a program to teach people how to start and run their own membership programs. Not surprisingly, the program sold out in a week.

Tim emailed me this week to tell me that he and Ryan are going to once again open up their Membership Site Bootcamp to new members.

To help people decide whether running a membership site is right for you they’ve put together a short video to show you:

§        How membership sites work

§        What makes membership sites the ultimate portable business (as long as you have a laptop and an internet connection you can run your business from anywhere)

§        The income potential including how recurring income increases the value of the business for future resale

You also get to see some pretty amazing case studies of actual people who, in literally a matter of months, are generating a steady monthly income stream from their new membership sites. I happen to know a few of these people behind these success stories personally, so I can assure you they are very real.

If the thought of generating thousands to possibly tens of thousand of dollars a month in steady, recurring income appeals to you I encourage you to watch the video at http://ChangingCourse.com/recommends/membershipbootcamp

“The Way to Get Unstuck is to Get Informed”

My guess is the first thing you feel when you hear about the income-generating potential of membership sites is excitement. After all, with a steady income you really CAN quit your job!

After the excitement though comes fear. Am I right?

If that sounds like you, then repeat after me: "I don't have enough information right now to be afraid OR excited."

When it comes to changing course, information really will set you free, because the greater your knowledge, the greater your options and the less risky change becomes.

As you watch the video, I’d like you to do two things. One, jot down any questions and/or ideas you have about member programs. Two, pay attention to any inner dialogue that is self-enabling or self-defeating. Then fill in these blanks…

  • The biggest question I have about starting and running a member program is….

  • The first idea that springs to mind is….

  • I know I can do this because… 

  • The reason I know I could never do this is…

To learn more about how to start a member site and how to make it profitable, watch this short video now and be sure to sign up for the follow up case studies:

ChangingCourse.com/recommends/
membershipbootcamp

Whether your passion is salsa, gardening, art, or wrestling, there are a myriad of ways to turn what you already know into your livelihood. If you are drawn to the idea of a more regular, predictable income stream that has the potential to be extremely profitable, then running your own member site may be something worth exploring.

Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about. We can do things we don’t even dream we can do.” “

Whenever you find yourself thinking that your dream is not possible, find someone who is successfully doing the thing you want to do and follow them. I guarantee that this road will lead you to a lifetime of satisfaction, well-being, and even greater possibilities than you could ever imagine.

To your dreams,
Valerie Young Signature
Valerie Young
Dreamer in Residence
Turning Interests into Income Expert

ChangingCourse.com

 

P.S. Get Rich Slow

When you watch the video you’ll see some revenue figures from actual member sites that range from $4,500 to a whopping $193,000. Again, because it’s a continuity program, these figures are per MONTH.

These numbers are impressive.

Yet, if you’ve been following Changing Course for any time now, then you know that I do not advocate anything that even remotely smacks of “get-rich-quick.” Starting a member site, or any reputable on- or off-line business, takes time and effort. And a member program certainly offers no fast, easy road to riches. But I figure if you’re going to work hard to grow someone else’s business, you might as well work hard to build your own.

I would not suggest you go into the membership site business necessarily expecting to be a millionaire like Ryan. And certainly not right away.

But I do believe that if you are willing to put in the time and effort, that it is entirely possible that by this time next year you could be earning enough from your member site to quit your job or at the very least go part-time.

The key is to begin. Here is the link again:


ChangingCourse.com/recommends/membershipbootcamp


Are Your Attitudes About Money Holding You Back?

Part 2 in a 2-Part Series About Women and Money

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 179 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

Well I’m back from my big New York trip and ready to pick up where I left off in the discussion of women and money. The first part of this article highlighted some common and potentially limiting attitudes some women hold about money including a tendency to feel undeserving or even shame for making – or wanting to make – good money.

Moral and other money-related dilemmas are not unique to women. Yet, having and managing money is often a bigger challenge for women. It’s not surprising when you consider it was not until 1974 that all women got the right to have business credit in their own names. Today the barriers are more attitudinal than institutional. Just ask Gail.

“Making Money is Selfish”

Gail is a consultant and trainer to non-profits. “Many times over the years,” she says, “I’ve encountered and been frustrated by the attitude that there is a special ‘glory’ for non-profits in making do with as little as possible, using outdated equipment and shabby facilities, paying staff little, working them too hard and offering few benefits, expecting the director to also be the janitor, etc., etc.” Adding, “In this framework, for-profit = bad (the “dark side”) and non-profit = good, so apparently money must be a necessary evil.”

Despite having spent more than 20 years working in the non-profit sector herself, Gail could never quite put her finger on what was behind these attitudes. Last summer she attended the Work at What You Love workshop and the light bulb went on. She explains:

“A woman in one of my discussion groups was feeling real anguish that her business idea could make her significant money. She had spent her career in non-profits and felt it would be somehow ‘wrong’ and ‘selfish’ to earn a larger income by working for-profit. The connection that jumped out at me between this attitude and your article is the large percentage of non-profit staff who are women. A coincidence? I don’t think so!”

“No Nobility in Poverty”

Not everyone gets what all the fuss is about. Fayette, a 54 year old single mom and long time small business owner wanted me to know that she’d raised three children and managed to get them all through college. “Had I not been marketing and making money in my business, my kids would not have made it to the point where they are now. All of this I did on top of working a 40 hour a week job.” Adding, “When you are in business, one of the things you are in it for is to make money. My saying is, ‘There is no nobility in poverty.’”

There may not be any nobility in poverty but there sure is a lot of fear about it. Suze Orman cites a 2006 survey in which nearly half the women respondents said they’ve imagined ending up homeless. It’s no wonder that many of the women I heard from are actively exploring their relationship with money. “I may not be happier rich but am I happy being poor?” asks fellow reader and writer, poet and interfaith minister Sandra Lee Schubert. Answering her own question she writes:

“No. So I don’t tell ‘those’ friends about my goals or what I am setting up online. I have joined groups that support my goals. At this moment I want to make MONEY. And I am no longer ashamed to say that. I want an apartment at the river’s edge overlooking Manhattan. I want to be able to afford the kind of medical care to improve my life. I want to buy good clothes. I want to feel generous again. That feeling will come from me. Slowly I am spending money on my education, creating my Web site and laying the foundation.”

At the moment Sandra says none of this makes her feel particularly comfortable, “But,” she adds, “looking at living in poverty in my golden years makes me really uncomfortable.” (You must visit Sandra’s delightful Web site and see an adorable photo of “young Sandra” at Writing-For-Life.com)

Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life

Someone who has absolutely no qualms about women entrepreneurs making money is Nell Merlino, cofounder and president of Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading national non-profit of online micro loans for women entrepreneurs. Nell is also the visionary behind Make Mine a Million $ Business (MakeMineAMillion.org).

Along withfounding partner, OPEN from American Express®, the Make Mine a Million $ Business program hopes to inspire and support one million women entrepreneurs to reach annual revenues of $1 million by the year 2010. The program provides a combination of financing, mentoring, marketing and technology tools to help grow their businesses from micro to millions.

Someone who has done just that is Garnett Newcombe. Her Los Angeles-based organization, Human Potential Consultants, trains veterans, newly released convicts, and others to return to the workplace. Garnett had managed to grow her business to $400,000 a year in revenues but then hit a wall.

Then, she decided to compete for a spot in the Make Mine a Million $ Business program (think American Idol for entrepreneurs) and made it. Barely a year later, she’s grown her business to $4.2 million and has $18 million more in contracts. And she’s added 70 staff members to what had been a 10 person operation.

In the last article I told you that I’ve never aspired to be a millionaire. But I have to tell you I’m kind of warming up to the idea. Between 1995 and 2005 I probably spent a total of $2,000 on books and courses to help me learn how to grow my business. That’s a total of $200 a year. My business grew steadily to the point where I could pay the bills but not much more.

Then, between the fall of 2006 and 2007, I invested over $25,000 in my own education. This year alone it looks like it will be around $16,000. Just a few years ago, this would have been unthinkable for me. But what I have very quickly discovered is that for every $100 I have spent on self-study programs, a mastermind group, or a live workshop I have made $3,000 back. You do the math.

Change Your Thinking and Change Other People’s Lives

What turns a lot of women off, including me, are the people who make it ALL about the money. Worse is when I hear some big internet millionaire bragging about how he found someone in some developing country to work for him for a few bucks an hour. It’s sickening.

For me it’s not about making money for the sake of making money. I don’t need a fancy car or a bigger house. I don’t even wear half the clothes I already own. It’s not about having more “stuff.” For me, the goal of making more money is that it will allow me to do more for other people.

I’ve always contributed to favorite causes on a regular basis… $50 dollars here, $100 there. But in 2006 I decided to use my good fortune to help those far less fortune than I am by partnering with a wonderful micro-grant organization called TrickleUp.org to donate a portion of all profits from Changing Course.

With your help, in December, I was able to donate $5,000. That money directly helped 50 people previously living on $1 a day to get the seed money they need to start small businesses. When you consider their families the impact is closer to 250 people. But these are just numbers.

Putting a human face on some of these hard working entrepreneurs, I feel incredibly grateful and humbled. (Click here to read these inspiring profiles TrickleUp.org/entrepreneurs/profile.html) In 2008 I hope to double my contribution.

Never Say, “I Can’t Afford It.”

I started to write, “If I can afford it, in 2008 I hope to double my contribution.” Then I remembered some advice I read that said you should never say “I can’t afford it” to anything. You can say, “That’s interesting, but it’s not for me,” or you can say, “Where do I sign up!” or you can say, “I can’t swing it right now.” But when you say “I can’t afford it” unconsciously you’re telling yourself that you not only don’t have the money right now but that you never will.

You might not be ready yet to imagine yourself making a million dollars. And you may not be in a position to give away thousands of dollars. But that doesn’t mean you can’t change your thinking in small but important ways.

I’ve barely scratched the surface on what is a complicated and vast subject. But in doing so I hope to stimulate a conversation that can enable all of us to grow, learn, and prosper…whatever prosperity means to you.

P.S. On a personal note: I was brought up in a very private family where how much you earned was “nobody’s business.” When I share my financial successes in these kinds of public arenas, I assure you it is not to toot my own horn. I’m telling you this because as the Garnett Newcombes – and every single other successful self-bosser I have ever met will tell you – the more you learn the more you earn. Investing in yourself, your education, and your business truly is money in the bank.

P.P.S. And since I’m sharing… The reason I was in New York was because a literary agent set up two whirlwind days of interviews with nine major publishing houses including Simon & Schuster, Collins, Crown/Random House, and Brown Little. The meetings were quickly followed by – are you ready – an auction which resulted in a bidding war. I am thrilled to say I have signed with Crown for a, drum roll please, six-figure contract for How to Feel as Bright and Capable as Everyone Seems to Think You Are. Somebody pinch me! I hope this inspires other first-time authors to go for it!


Are Your Attitudes About Money Holding You Back?

Part 1 in a 2-Part Series About Women and Money

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young

This article originally appeared in Issue 177 of the Changing Course Newsletter.

I’m the owner of an online business. I’m also a woman. What that means is I often have to manage something a lot of my male counterparts do not, namely women’s attitudes – including my own – about money. Certainly there are men who have money issues. But when it comes to either investing money in our dreams or making a lot of money ourselves, I find women struggle a lot more than men.

I knew there was no way I could tackle such a complex topic myself, so back in December I asked my readers for input. I’ve included some of their comments here. I hope you’ll add yours as well.

What prompted the discussion about women and money was a Teleseminar I conducted with Alex Mandossian. Alex is an expert on how to develop your expertise and build a list of prospective customers using Teleseminars. During the call, Alex gave example after example of people he’d worked with who’d made tens of thousands of dollars in product sales as a result of introducing themselves to potential customers via a single Teleseminar. He also made a point more than once of underscoring that getting to this level of success takes at least three years.

I got a ton of positive feedback about the call. But I also heard from a woman named Agnes. Agnes told me she wanted to sign up for Alex’s training program but, she said, “I couldn’t help but wonder if it isn’t just a little ‘smarmy’ or something to make soooo much money so quickly? Even though I rationally know there really isn’t anything wrong with it – I can’t seem to put my finger on my own hesitation.”

It was Agnes’s next comment that got me thinking about a wildly popular method for making fast money that no one blinks an eye at – namely, the lottery. She writes, “I would love to win the lottery like everyone else and that doesn’t seem sleazy. I’m not a stranger to hard work and am very willing to work – it’s almost like I feel like I have to work very, very hard in order to deserve to make a lot of money – although now I work very hard and DON’T make a lot of money! Why does that seem ‘okay’ on some level?”

Even people who never play the lottery can relate to the allure of becoming an instant millionaire. I know I can. But clearly there is something deeper going on.

Chance vs. Effort

I don’t know why it seems more acceptable to get rich by chance than by effort, but I certainly can relate to Agnes’s confusion. I’ve been self-employed for about twelve years now. It took 11 years of hard work and sacrifice, but I finally had my first high five figure week. It was a major turning point in my business and in how I looked at money. It was also cause for celebration.

So I made reservations at a pricey area restaurant and treated a small group of friends to a fabulous dinner. When I was growing up, the only fine dining I ever knew was the very occasional Friday night fish fry at Howard Johnson. So it felt great to say, “Order everything you want!” and boy did we! The celebration was in high gear when some mutual friends happened by our table and asked what all commotion was about. “Tell them how much money you made this week, Valerie!” exclaimed my exuberant dinner companions.

I wanted to tell them. In fact I wanted to tell the entire restaurant. But instead of feeling proud, I felt embarrassed. I mean it’s one thing to share the good news with a few close friends, but to talk about how much money you made so publicly? I just wasn’t raised that way. But deep down I knew there was more than just my working class roots kicking in here.

In that moment I remember thinking how I wish I’d won the money on a lottery ticket. No one would blink an eye if I leapt on the table, winning lottery ticket in hand. In fact there would have been high fives all the way around! I know I certainly would have felt different about the whole thing. Intellectually I knew that I had worked, as Agnes said, “very, very hard.” Yet, still, I felt awkward talking about it.

Why is an unearned windfall from an inheritance, gambling, the lottery, or other form of chance somehow more internally acceptable than earning it through our own talents, hard work, and determination? Why do women feel undeserving to be affluent? Why is the desire for financial prosperity considered somehow wrong? I certainly don’t have all the answers but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

“If I’m Too Successful, People Won’t Like Me”

For better or worse, men’s self-worth is often tied to how much they earn. The downside to this is that it puts a lot of pressure on men to prove themselves financially. On the plus side though I find most men are also a lot more comfortable charging more for their services or with wealth-building in general.

Women on the other hand tend to measure our worth based on the richness of our relationships – not our bank account. Talking about a windfall could be construed as being “too full of ourselves” which could make people think less of us. Being relationship-oriented also means taking care of other people’s feelings. A longitudinal study conducted with young girls enrolled in the gifted class found that if a girl earned an A on a test but her little friend only got a B, she would lie and say she got a B too. Women learn at a young age not to talk about their accomplishments to avoid making others feel bad. 

Some women are afraid that if they are “too successful” other people won’t like them. It may be harder to relate to friends and family, a spouse or partner may be threatened if you start earning substantially more, co-workers may resent your promotion.

I happen to think that maintaining healthy relationships and caring about the impact of our behavior on others is an important virtue and skill. It’s what makes women great managers and in some ways, marketers, and, I believe, what will ultimately save the planet. It’s finding that balance that is the key.

I’d like to see women have both – rich, rewarding relationships and freedom from financial worries. I also want us to find ways to feel good about and even celebrate our accomplishments. For example, these same researchers helped the gifted girls brainstorm ways they could continue to care about their friend’s feelings but also feel proud of their accomplishment.

That leads me to another important clue to understanding women’s attitudes about money. This too has to do with relationships. But here it is about how we feel about money and those who have it.

Our Love-Hate Relationship With Money

Part of my old corporate job included organizing these incredibly lavish sales retreats to reward the top sales people. The events were held in places like Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, or Monaco. We flew in a film crew from New York to shoot video montages, paid a song writer to compose a theme song, constructed elaborate sets. No expense was spared. Needless to say, the sales people qualifying for these events were very well off with no shortage of millionaires. That was when I became consciously aware of my conflicting feelings of contempt and envy around money and people who had it.

So it’s in that context that I try to understand the occasional emails I receive from people – almost always women – who are not just angry, but enraged with me if they are unable to afford to purchase something I may be offering. After all, the reasoning goes, if you really cared, you wouldn’t charge me.

I’m not the only one who has observed this resentment toward successful people. “When do women leave behind the mindset of poverty?’ writes Sandra. “When can they take on the mantle of success and not feel bad about it?” Rather than feeling contempt or envy, Sandra feels inspired. “I like to look to Ali Brown of Ezine Queen for some inspiration. She is not ashamed or shy to flaunt her success. And I mean flaunt in the best way.” I know for a fact that Ali also receives her share of hate mail. (If you aren’t familiar with Ali or her work, and would like to see an example of someone is not ashamed to talk about her financial success go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/blueprintbox)

Perhaps part of the reason some women have strong negative feelings about people who flaunt their success is that women often devalue their own skills. After all, we think, if I can do it, anybody can. We have a really hard time attaching a dollar figure to our work and an even harder time assigning a high value. Not surprisingly, studies show that women are more likely to take the first salary offer while men are more apt to negotiate.

But here’s the thing. Once you learn to place a higher value on your knowledge, skills, and time, you start to charge more. And when you charge more you become more financially successful. And when that happens, you’ll run into other people who struggle with the same contempt/envy response I had. Some may even secretly want you to fail. This brings full circle… “If I’m too successful people may not like me… and I may not like myself.”

Personally I’ve never aspired to be a millionaire. Even if that were to happen, I’d give a lot of the money away. I mean how much money does one person need? Basically, I don’t want to die a poor old woman and I don’t want you to either.

There is of course much more to say about women and money but I’ll save that for the next issue. In the meantime, I hope you will take a moment to join the conversation at my new blog.


Tools to Help You Go From Creating Debt to Creating Dreams

Valerie Young and her wonder dog, By Valerie Young 

This article originally appeared in Issue 173 of the Changing Course Newsletter

The traditional kick-off to the holiday shopping season in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. This year ads started popping up before Halloween.

It’s been said that holiday debt is the gift that keeps on taking. According to a survey done last year by Consumer Reports, the average bill for holiday shoppers using credit cards to buy gifts will be $626. The average American household carries $9,000 in credit card debt throughout the year and then holiday debt gets piled on top of that.

A big question for anyone looking to ditch their job and join the ranks of the self-employed is, “How can I afford to change course?” And if you’re drowning in debt, the thought of being able to strike out on your own feels all the more impossible. There are all kinds of books and other programs out there to help you get out of debt and/or create prosperity. Over the last year and a half or so I’ve had the opportunity to cross paths with a number of authorities in the field. Each offers a different take on the money theme… finding it, keeping it, and managing it.

If you need to get your financial house in order before you can change course, here are a few people and resources I believe are worth checking out.

First Things First

I first told you about Joan back in 2006. What makes Joan’s story so compelling is that she spent most of her adult life in a pattern of under earning and compulsive debting. After her two brothers tired of bailing her out, Joan discovered the 12-step program Debtors Anonymous (DebtorsAnonymous.org). It worked she says, for a while.

After building a successful business she once again ended up in serious debt forcing her to close her business and declare bankruptcy. Eight years later, at age fifty-six, Joan relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico with a mere $200 in her pocket. Losing her business propelled Joan to learn more about her financial dysfunction by digging deeper to untangle the deep emotions and family issues associated with money.

Today Joan uses what she’s learned to help others who are similarly stuck in unproductive money patterns. Her money self-help manual, Building Your Financial Muscles, contains exercises and resources for people who are searching for a way to relieve financial pressures and change the way they deal with money. Joan also offers a number of different audio programs with titles like, “Let Go of the Aloneness” and “Discovering Your Core Financial Issues.” More recently she’s expanded into tools specifically for entrepreneurs with a CD/workbook set called, “Marketing Your Micro-Business.”

Another new addition is a facilitator kit for people who want to run support groups for others struggling to become financially healthy. Right now the facilitator kit costs $89 . If you get ten participants and each pays up to $20 per meeting then you can earn $200 per meeting. To learn about Joan and her unique approach to financial health go to ChangingCourse.com/recommends/prosperityplace

Living Debt Free

Whether you are drowning in debt, or just love the idea of living debt free, you should get to know the work of a fellow named Leo Quinn. I had the pleasure of meeting Leo last June at a workshop I attended in Denver. I discovered over breakfast one day that not only was he one of the event speakers, but with 27,000 loyal subscribers, he’s also a well-respected expert in the debt-elimination field. In fact, Leo had been doing this work long before the Internet boomed.

His most popular program is called “How to Own Your Paycheck Again.” Just to be clear, if you are not able to pay your bills or are teetering on bankruptcy, this is not the program for you. Leo specializes in working with people who want to get rid of their debt so they can live on less, retire early, or just generally spend less time working and more time doing the things they want to do. Personally what I like about it is that you can take the money you would have used to pay your credit cards or mortgage and apply that to your new business.

Normally “How to Own Your Paycheck Again” costs $97. But when I called Leo for this article he offered to extend a special $50 discount for Changing Course readers when you order before November 21st. With an iron-clad money-back guarantee you have nothing to lose but your debt. Learn more at ChangingCourse.com/recommends/leoquinn

Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids

“In the middle of difficulty,” observed Albert Einstein, “lies opportunity.” Some of the best opportunities often originate from problems – either yours or someone else’s. One of the all too common problems that savvy savings expert Darlene Arechederra saw was that of two-income families in which one of the parents (usually the mom) wants to stay home with the kids but can’t afford to. Knowing that nothing is impossible if you know what you’re doing, Dar developed a self-help program called Goodbye Boss, Hello Kids.

For the same reason my site is called Changing Course and not Jump off a Bridge, Dar talks about the need to create a transition strategy, or a “bridge” as she calls it, from where you are to where you want to be – which in this case is home with the kids. A few of the lessons working parents receive in this 10-minute a day course include Finding Money to Grow Your Coming Home Account, Eliminating One of the Biggest Expenses for Working Women, Strategies To Help You Come Home Sooner, and How Bosses and Co-Workers Can Speed Up Your Journey Home. Learn more at AffordtoStayHome.com.

Creating Money for Your Small Business

What if you don’t have kids or just want to escape your job-job to work at what you love? Well, in addition to helping her clients to “unearth potential home business ideas that make their heart sing,” Dar also helps future home business owners create the money they’ll need for their cottage industry or home business. (Fast Track members be sure to log into the Money Matters section of FastTrackHeadquarters.com to find Dar’s “5 Must-Know Secrets to Creating Money for Your Dream” in the current Money Matters e-Tip. It’s a must read for anyone who needs to find the money to jumpstart that great business idea.)  

I came to know Dar when she enrolled in my 2006 Outside the Job Box Career Consulting Certification Program. Initially I was fascinated by her expertise in helping women specifically and people in general become financially savvy enough to jumpstart a small business. But what really intrigued me is that Dar is an introvert training for a career in a field you would think would better suit someone who is more outgoing. But like a true entrepreneur, Dar has turned what some might consider a challenge into an asset by specializing in working with other introverts! She even has a free blog called CreativeCareersForIntroverts.com. Now how smart is that?!

Journey to Abundance

Finally there is Fast Track Your Dreams member Kamin Bell. Kamin started her professional career as the U.S. Navy’s first female African-American helicopter pilot. She then went on to become a Mary Kay Sales Director and consultant. From here Kamin transitioned to having several small business ventures, the most recent of which is to publish her first book, Journey to Abundance. Kamin sent me a review copy in September and I was genuinely impressed. Using the true story of her own financial ruin, fear, and crisis of faith, Kamin takes you along with her as she discovers the abundance and prosperity God wants for us all. Whether you are Christian by faith, or simply feel guided by a Higher Power as I do, you can not help but feel enriched, encouraged, and informed by Kamin’s story and by the thought-provoking exercises she has designed to set you firmly on your own journey to abundance.” As part of the book’s pre-release Kamin is giving away a free chapter KaminBell.com/abundance

There are many paths to financial well-being and prosperity. As we move into this period of holiday spending take some time to be mindful of the role that money plays in your life. If excessive giving will put you farther into debt perhaps this is the time to realistically assess your finances, your dreams, and how your relationship with money may be serving or undermining your goals of changing the course of your life.


Praise

A New Direction

I decided to take the Work @ What You Love Workshop and also work one-on-one with Valerie. The workshop explored so many unusual and unexpected solutions to my specific questions. I made so many new connections to what clearly works for me in crea...

Julia Raymond
Curvology Studio

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